Read Ordinary Jack: Being the First Part of the Bagthorpe Saga by Helen Cresswell Free Online
Book Title: Ordinary Jack: Being the First Part of the Bagthorpe Saga|
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Reader ratings: 3.5
The author of the book: Helen Cresswell
Edition: MacMillan Publishing Company
Date of issue: October 1st 1977
ISBN 13: 9780027255409
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 499 KB
City - Country: No data
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For the life of me I can't remember exactly how the Bagthorpes entered my life. It must have been a random grab off my local library shelf, because I've never heard of them referenced or mentioned in the years since (but then, it's my impression that its prolific author, Helen Cresswell, has never really had much of a presence on this side of the Atlantic). All I know is that at a certain time in my life—that is, that awful moment just before entering middle school—I read this series obsessively, ordering copies from small rural library branches from all over Central California to fuel my obsession. And this, the inaugural title, was always my particular favorite.
And it's really not hard, reading it now, to see why. It completely makes sense that as a lonely, awkward boy who felt like a complete outsider in life I would totally and completely empathize with an awkward boy who feels like a complete outsider in life, the sole "ordinary" member of a family of overachieving, self-proclaimed geniuses (though he was, luckily for him, less lonely than I was, thanks to his ever-present companion, an adopted stray named Zero). As such, I counted Jack, along with the boys of Little Men, as my best—and, sadly, probably only—friends during that particularly rough period of time, and as such, I've always remembered Jack, his family, and the ten books they inspired with unabashed affection.
Fast-forward now to the present, and returning to these books now, I can't help but smile over how much this series, for better or worse, formed my initial impressions of Britain and the British national character—by the time I met the infamous Radlett family of Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate: Two Novels, this family dynamic and lovable eccentricism seemed completely familiar, and frankly, a bit normal (honestly, they've got nothing on the manic Bagthorpe clan). And while I thoroughly enjoyed Ordinary Jack this time around, I have to admit that it is, objectively, not one of the strongest entries in the series, mostly because Cresswell is necessarily forced to make that extra effort required of first books in a series, fleshing out characters (which number no less than a dozen distinct personalities) and establishing intricate family dynamics that will provide an endless number of comical situations over the subsequent nine books.
But I must admit that as a character, Jack, by nature of his sheer ordinariness, is just not all that interesting of a character, though in a narrative sense he's absolutely necessary as the sole voice of reason in the increasingly surreal and absurd situations the Bagthorpes find themselves implicated in. And, of course, given our past, he'll always occupy a special place in my literary heart.
In all honesty a four star book, but in light of nostalgia, I can't imagine giving it anything less than five.
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